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Last night, we had freezing rain. Well-the rain tripped half the GFI's out. Since then-the rain is frozen in the plugs. I have a panel box in my garage with 8 breakers on it. About 1 foot anway is all theoutlets for each breaker. I need to get the show back up but do not wont to risk anything. I am thinking of removing the GFI outlets and letting the breakers do the tripping if there is a short. What do you think.

Can I remove the GFI outlets and run off the outlets straight to the breaker??

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Guest Bob_Moody

I also think it is a very bad idea. I just finished what sounds like your exact same setup (8 breaker sub panel and all) and all of the plugs are GFI.

I'll refer to:

http://www.misterfixit.com/gfi.htm

{excerpt from the above site}

[Inside the GFI are two sensing coils which measure the current going out of the black wire and coming back through the white wire. If some of that current going out through the black wire doesn't come back through the white wire the circuit inside the GFI box senses that you are about to get fried (via the unbalance of the outgoing and returning current) and shuts the circuit off within about 10 milliseconds! You might just begin to feel a tingle if you are very sensitive to electricity, but it will not persist long enough to do any harm!!]

Under these conditions you might get a tingle. Under "sticking your finger in a regular light socket" you have to take 15+ amps through your body long enough actually draw enough current to "trip" the breaker. You across a load is NOT a dead short .. there is enough resistance in your body to keep you jittering for awhile before/if the breaker trips out before you explode.

What happened to people before GFI ?? They fried.

Thaw your plugs, dry your plugs, try to rain barrier your plugs (notice i did not say waterproof) and bring your show back online.

Heres what I did. The box cover on the plastic container is off for the picture, but notice all the access is toward the ground and there is a drip loop. The cover snaps on the box with a "Danger High Voltage at all Times" sign on it.

-- Bob

post-328-129570945581_thumb.jpg

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Scott -- Breakers and GFCI's do totally different things (unless we're talking GFCI breakers, which combine both functions).

Breakers protect property and wiring by preventing overcurrent and short-circuit conditions. GFCI's protect lives by preventing current from leaking out of a circuit, potentially through your body and killing you.

Like Jeff said, before GFCI's, people got shocks and died.

I do understand the frustration -- we don't get a lot of rain here in December but we sometimes do and then I have GFCI issues too. I'm not too careful about protecting cord connections from laying on the ground, etc, though -- mainly because I don't have to be -- snow has never tripped a GFCI in my experience, and we don't get much rain.

-Tim

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Thanks for the response.

This is what I did.. I replaced 4 GFI outlets with a standard outlet. I left 4 in that are still GFI and are giving me problems. It is suppose to warm up a bit this week. Hopefully this will dry the plug out then. After they air out, I will then wrap them and replace the GFI outlets back. As long as I do not touch anything, everything should be ok????

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The GFI’s are tripping because there is current passing through the Ground wire. There should never be any current in this wire. This could be leakage to physical ground also which mean there could be live voltage somewhere in the grass and a person could shorten the path (through their body) just by walking in this area.

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Loftus001 wrote:

As long as I do not touch anything, everything should be ok????

(This might come off as snippy-- I don't mean it too, I'm just passionate about safety...)

Sure, it will be as long as you don't touch anything. And no visitors touch anything. And no kids get excited, dart from Mom's hand, and run up to "grab the reindeer" or hold a light string near the border of the yard...

If you can guarantee all that, then you don't need GFCI's. And if you can guarantee that a circuit will never be overloaded, then you don't need circuit breakers either. And if you can guarantee there won't be a fire in the house, you don't need to keep fire extinguishers around...

There's a good reason for electrical and safety codes.

-Tim

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This is something that I'm concerned about, and will look into for future years. Currently I have one outdoor GFI outlet. There is one other in the house...my parent's bathroom, and they would have a cow if I left their bathroom window open to run part of the display from there! There isn't even one in our hall bathroom. The bad thing is, I run my display off of 5 different circuits. So this is a big problem, since I want to be as safe as possible (I've had my dealings with electricity gone bad, and it's not always pleasant).

If/when I finally get around to getting more power here, this will be dealt with...and that's one thing you can be absolutely sure of.

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Remember that if you have more than one outlet on a circuit, and you run the second (and third, fourth etc) from the load side of the GFCI, only the FIRST outlet has to be a GFCI because it will protect all the rest on the SAME circuit past it. If you don't have GFCI outlets, there is a pigtail that is about 2 feet long with a built in GFCI that makes any outlet safe.

This is one example http://www.aquaticeco.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/product.detail/iid/11580/cid/3017

I know these work, we use them on all power tools where the extension cord isn't plugged into a GFCI outlet. Don't plug them into a GFCI outlet, kinda freaks them out and causes lots of fake trips.

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Now that I think about it, it wouldn't be a bad idea when anyone gets a subpanel put in for outdoor Christmas lights, just to go ahead and get a combo breaker (high amp, arc fault(black to white) and GFCI(black to ground)) installed for every circuit. This would be max safety without worrying about the plugs, pigtails, etc.

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Mike Bluford wrote:

Now that I think about it, it wouldn't be a bad idea when anyone gets a subpanel put in for outdoor Christmas lights, just to go ahead and get a combo breaker (high amp, arc fault(black to white) and GFCI(black to ground)) installed for every circuit. This would be max safety without worrying about the plugs, pigtails, etc.

The problem is economics: $5-12 for a GFCI, $20-$40+ for a GFCI breaker.

I don't have any experience with Arc-fault breakers. I understand they're now required for all new bedroom circuits in the U.S., but our home doesn't have them (yet).

-Tim

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If you are only running 1 or 2 outlets per breaker it is cheaper, when you get higher it isn't. In the cases here I know most are 1 per breaker so you are right. If you are using plugs in a house circuit or garage circuit, then change the breaker or the first outlet in the circuit and be protected, not every outlet.

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Mike Bluford wrote:

If you are only running 1 or 2 outlets per breaker it is cheaper, when you get higher it isn't. In the cases here I know most are 1 per breaker so you are right. If you are using plugs in a house circuit or garage circuit, then change the breaker or the first outlet in the circuit and be protected, not every outlet.

But like you said, only the first in the chain needs to be changed. For example, our kitchen has 2 GFCI's, one for each general-purpose circuit. (2-3 additional outlets on each circuit).

Outlets tend to be wired in sequence anyway, so you just have to find the first in the sequence.

-Tim

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ErnieHorning wrote:

It seems spending a small amount for the protection would still be a lot cheaper then getting sued because someone’s kid got electrocuted. Even if they only got slightly shocked, it’s still your fault and the lawyers still go after you.

Ernie,

Not sure if that was directed at me or not.

I'm trying to advocate the protection. But it doesn't matter how you get it -- GFCI outlets and breakers are equally effective.

-Tim

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Mike Bluford wrote:

Now that I think about it, it wouldn't be a bad idea when anyone gets a subpanel put in for outdoor Christmas lights, just to go ahead and get a combo breaker (high amp, arc fault(black to white) and GFCI(black to ground)) installed for every circuit. This would be max safety without worrying about the plugs, pigtails, etc

thats what i did. i figured 2 gfi receptacles per 30A controller was about break even for a gfi breaker. i didint even think about the arc fault though

thyno

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Loftus001 wrote:

Does anyone else run a display without GFI's???

Of course they do. :D I usually don't post in these threads because I always get yelled at, but my display will never have GFCI's. I don't know how thepeople that use then every keep anything working. All it takes is a few drops of water on a wire frame to trip them and it seems like it rains here every day or two during the season. There is no permanently installed wiring for my display, so I don't have to worry about anyhouse wiring being non code compliant. I've got 60 amp subpanels fed by 6/4 SO cable that I tie into the main panel every year and remove after christmas.

I have an X-10 module that feeds 3 contactors out in the yard for the static parts of the display. At the beggining of the season, that X-10 module was plugged into a garage outlet, which has a GFCI. It would trip everytime it even sprinkled and there's only 3 connections in that whole circuit.

If you ever look at a commercial display, you won't see GFCI's on those either. I usually go to Gatlinburg a couple of times each season. I always check out things real close and there aren't GFCI's on any of their displays and many are right by the sidewalks. I have seen anyone electrocuted laying there yet. :)

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Thank you all for your info. I agree with Tim and others about using GFI's. I have about half of the display connections in the yard wrapped for the weather. The section that was not wrapped, is the part that is tripping. If I get some warmer weather, I will be back out wrapping the connections. I have for the past several years used GFI outlets off of the subpanel. I do believe in safety. The part of the display that keeps tripping is in the back away from the road. I do not allow people to walk in my yard due to all the cords and phone line going from each LOR board. Once it drys out, and I get all the plugs wrapped, I will replace the GFI outlets again.

Thank you all for the posts. They are all good advise.

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Hello all. Well when I came home from work today I was surprised to see that half of my display wasnt on. I figured out that the problem was the C7 clear light outlining the house (gutters, shingles) When I plug in the extension cord for the lights on the roof to the power strip, the GFI trips and the light comes on. What could be causing the problem? I really want to get these back up and running as soon as possible. Please help! Even when I plug them into an unused exterior outlet the GFI trips. What can I do?

Merry Christmas,

Matt Phillips

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dschwab9 wrote:

Loftus001 wrote:

Of course they do. :D I usually don't post in these threads because I always get yelled at, but my display will never have GFCI's. I don't know how thepeople that use then every keep anything working. All it takes is a few drops of water on a wire frame to trip them and it seems like it rains here every day or two during the season. There is no permanently installed wiring for my display, so I don't have to worry about anyhouse wiring being non code compliant. I've got 60 amp subpanels fed by 6/4 SO cable that I tie into the main panel every year and remove after christmas.

I have an X-10 module that feeds 3 contactors out in the yard for the static parts of the display. At the beggining of the season, that X-10 module was plugged into a garage outlet, which has a GFCI. It would trip everytime it even sprinkled and there's only 3 connections in that whole circuit.

If you ever look at a commercial display, you won't see GFCI's on those either. I usually go to Gatlinburg a couple of times each season. I always check out things real close and there aren't GFCI's on any of their displays and many are right by the sidewalks. I have seen anyone electrocuted laying there yet. :)

Actually there is things in the NEC covering that. It covers a wide range of outdoor temp lighting (such as Christmas displays) and grounding.

All of my lights have always been on GFCIs and I've never had a problem, use quality wiring with good connections and moisture won't bother it. I use the "indoor" extension cords for my display along with some homemade cords, but make sure the connections are a good tight fit and I put one multi outlet strip (which feeds a wireframe snowman) in a large freezer bag.

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dschwab9 wrote:

Of course they do. :D I usually don't post in these threads because I always get yelled at, but my display will never have GFCI's. I don't know how thepeople that use then every keep anything working. All it takes is a few drops of water on a wire frame to trip them and it seems like it rains here every day or two during the season. There is no permanently installed wiring for my display, so I don't have to worry about anyhouse wiring being non code compliant. I've got 60 amp subpanels fed by 6/4 SO cable that I tie into the main panel every year and remove after christmas.

I have an X-10 module that feeds 3 contactors out in the yard for the static parts of the display. At the beggining of the season, that X-10 module was plugged into a garage outlet, which has a GFCI. It would trip everytime it even sprinkled and there's only 3 connections in that whole circuit.

If you ever look at a commercial display, you won't see GFCI's on those either. I usually go to Gatlinburg a couple of times each season. I always check out things real close and there aren't GFCI's on any of their displays and many are right by the sidewalks. I have seen anyone electrocuted laying there yet.

I have. I work for a electrical contractor. We where hired a few years a go to rewire a large commercial display, after2 of the installers from the display contractor where killed. They where tring to trouble shoot some lights in the snow. We spent three days changing all the breakers to GFCIs. IF your and your familys safetyor the liabilty is not high on your list. so be it.

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